Janet Barnstable

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Instead of a garden party, some HLW Skypers members who were in Chicago for  ISTE 2018, attended  Memorial Service for Janet Barnstable and her husband Richard Sebrin.

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HLW Skypers (Hello Little World Skypers) is group formed using Skype as its chief communication tool by Katherine Zablatnik and others, eight years go. It was formed to facilitate Video conferencing Worldwide for the promotion of Education and technology. Building bridges; we are family, hand in hand we aspire to make a better world, trying to understand one another, and improve our cultural awareness. Our members come from many countries across the globe and many do not speak English as their first languge.

Janet Barnstable joined this group soon after it was formed. As a retired educator, she spent many hours keeping the conversations going, helping those who needed help, suggesting alternatives and solutions to issues raised, took an interest in each and every member,  and despite having no facebook, twitter or other popular social media account had her own well established global network.

She was the program manager for the Global Virtual Classroom. As these projects were usually spread over a 6 month period, our Australian school year finished and started afresh over this time, which prevented my classes from joining in as they changed each school year. However in 2017 Janet introduced mini projects so my class was able to participate in term 4 2017. I am so glad that I had the chance to work with her and some of the other teachers across the world. See and read what our Ocean project was with a class in Taiwan.

However, as ISTE 2018 in Chicago approached, several members of HLW Skypers from other countries talked about attending. Janet lived in Chicago with her husband Richard and she offered to host a garden party in their beautiful garden and excited chatter confirmed that we would love to be part of it. Planning started and another local Chicago resident Ellen Smith met with Janet to plan the afternoon. However, in late January Steve Sherman from Cape Town put a message into the HLW Skypers skype chat, asking whether any of us had heard from Janet lately as he had heard that she and her husband Richard Sebring may have been the as yet, unidentified victims of a house fire. Utter shock and disbelief set in amongst members of the group. It took weeks to identify and verify the bodies but it was indeed Janet and her husband. Unfortunately, both were confined to wheel chairs (Janet was a victim of polio). They were aged 78 and 76 years.

Our group setup a google document to crowd source our memories of Janet and pay testament to the wonderful work that she had done with us. She was collaborating globally even before the internet and she was “the cornerstone” and the “glue that kept the 150 or so global members of HLW Skypers together.”

Read more

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Instead of attending Janet’s garden party, a small group of friends, family and HLW Skypers members gathered at a Graveside Ceremony at Ascension Cemetery, Libertyville. This was timed to coincide with the time that people were in Chicago for ISTE and on the very day the garden party was to take place. It was with a mixture of sadness, pride in knowing Janet (virtually) and the knowledge that she had brought us altogether. It was a simple service led by the Trustee of her estate, where those who had gathered shared a little about the contact that had with Janet. It was comforting to learn more about this friend of ours, especially her past before we knew her.  David Karnoscak , Steve Sherman, Louise and Preston Cameron, Cheryl Kemper, Matthew Kuntz and myself were in attendance.

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We were all invited to a brunch at the nearby Blueberry Pancake restaurant where we were able to share in further conversations and get to know each other better and learn even more about Janet.

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A macrame neck piece made by Janet for this lady’s first communion.

We did still go to the garden party as Ellen Smith decided to host it in place of Janet. As she had already discussed the food etc with Janet, she kept to the same catering ideas – Italian sausage (which is a Chicago thing to eat), Mexican dips and platters etc. Further members were able to join us there as their flights only got in at lunchtime. Jen Maley and two of Janet’s close colleagues from GVC were there.

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HLW Skypers group at Ellen’s garden party

jen maley and janet's friends

Looking at the 3D printed self lighting torches that Jen Maley’s class had made for Africa.

A school will be built in memory of Janet. (Will add more details when I find them out).

Janet was a wonderful role model and an innovative pioneer. She will be sorely missed by all those who worked with her.

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Involvement at ISTE 2018 – Conference Presentations

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ISTE is the biggest conference in the world for technology teachers. This year, it was held at the McCormick Place, Chicago. There were more than 22000 people in attendance a. The following were presentations, that I was involved in.

I was fortunate to represent and present with some of my colleagues from  my most valued personal learning networks:

Global Education Day:  Sunday June 24th, organised by Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon (the learning revolution). These two amazing educators lead the fabulous Global Education Conference. As part of this session, I led a roundtable discussion on the Best Tools and Apps for Global Education. See the shared, crowd sourced document. Approximately 20 people crowded around a table, introduced themselves, accessed the google document and as each one shared their favourite tools, Leigh Zeitz added them to the document. What would you add to this document? Either add as a comment below or directly input it into the online document. See the participate portal with summaries of this 3 hour session.

Poster Session: Sunday July 24th

Hello Little World: Teachers Connecting Beyond Borders with David Karnoscak, (Chicago USA) Steve Sherman (of Cape Town, Sth Africa) and a number of members of our HLW Skypers group. See the session summary.

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In 2011 two high school teachers, Katherine Zablatnik (Austria) and Brad Peach (Texas) met via Skype. They wanted to promote building lifelong bridges between students and to enhance cross-cultural awareness. Today the group has over 150 educators and continues to impact the lives of children all over the world. Click here for more information

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As part of this session Effie Kyrikakis of Winners education  stayed up 3am in order to skype in with us, so that those who were interested could play Mystery Skype with her or generally ask questions.

Matt Frattali captured an interview with me and Steve. See it below.

Snapshot Session: Connected Learning in the Global Classroom with fellow Skype Master Teachers Amy Rosenstein and Todd Flory See our session summary

Connected Learning in the Global Classroom
Todd Flory
Go to this Sway

Interactive Lecture: Top Tools for Global Collaborators Tuesday July 26th with Amy Jambor and Makisha Rogers See session details.

This session was submitted as one of the ISTE Global PLN’s presentations. See our full presentation Twitter was used as a backchannel providing participants with the  opportunity to interact during the session, using the hashtag #isteglobalpln. Four questions were asked of them over the session. As Makisha was unable to attend ISTE, she presented virtually via a google hangout, demonstrating the power that technology can give to classrooms through virtual communication.  See Connie Rensink‘s live streaming of our presentation on periscope.

3Doodler pens

 

Our school received a $10,000 DigiTech startup grant through Digital Technologies, Department of Education. The main focus was to look at introducing robotics into the classroom and being able to roll out the new Digital Technologies curriculum. I wanted some equipment that might be fun and reasonably easy to embrace as well.

 

David Deeds, an online colleague who is Director of Information and Learning Technologies for Schutz American School in Alexandria, Egypt. Egypt shared photos of his class working with 3D pens on Facebook. He is always at the cutting edge of technology and its use in the classroom. As I wanted something fun for students to work with, we added the purchase of pens to our shopping list. David was emailed to get his recommendations for which pens would be best to use.

Following is his reply:

There are lots of knockoffs 3D pens these days. I maintain that 3Doodlers are still the best, even though they might cost a few dollars more.
You can get them direct from the 3Doodler website, from Amazon, etc.
How long will they last? Well…that depends on the quality. I know folks I bought them for in Mexico three years ago are still using them.
3D pens allow kids to create 3D art. Beyond Art class, kids could create 3D models of atoms or whatever.
They’re a lot of fun…kids go crazy with them…that’s enough for me. 😉
And that was enough for me. After searching around online, Harvey Norman had the best deals as they were clearing out the pens. In fact we also received some bonus items like pen holders and foot pedals. Six 3Doodler pens were purchased. They are not cheap but were cheaper than other online options at approximately $168 AUD.
Challenges
  • I had no idea how to use them. Should I sit down and work out how before students used them? Are there safety measures required.
  • Our art/technology teacher is very wary of all this new technology, fearing that it takes away student creativity.

Positives

  • one of my year 10 DigiTech students, Emily, was really keen to use them when I showed the class. She took it on herself to research how to use it, found some patterns to try and get started with, printed them off and brought them to me.
  • The pattern sheet was laid on the table top, the plastic threaded through the pen and the design was traced around using the pen.

As I have done so many times over my long teaching career, I decided to jump in the deep end and let the students play, teach me how to use them and we collaboratively learn together. Emily brought the printed sheets to class period 1. I said that I preferred she design something first rather than downloading an existing pattern, but she felt it was a simple way to start and that she could simply concentrate on learning how to operate the pen. Her first attempt was rather rustic but on her second go, she started to perfect the technique, causing a lot of interest from fellow students. Following is a movie to see how it looked.

Emily also worked out the technique to join 2 pieces of 3D printout together eg in making the Eiffel Tower. It was made in 2 parts, then joined to create the 3D object. Emily said this was quite difficult to do.

First attempt

Once students have learnt the basic use, following are some ideas of things that they could now design and create:

  • smaller colourful glasses
  • masks
  • key rings
  • balls etc

I would like them to use the pen to build the complete 3D image rather than put flat pieces together.

Have you used the 3D pen printing technology? What suggestions do you have?

 

Mystery Skype with South Korea

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As Hannah, a teacher in South Korea, had a Parents’ Open Class early in the morning her time, she reached out for teachers in Australia or New Zealand to connect at this time and show the families the power that technology and global connections can bring to learning in the classroom.

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Fortunately, I had a year 7 class at this time, so it was possible for us to collaborate. They were similar ages from both countries, which was great. Discussions were made using chat in Skype as to how the lesson would look. Here is what was planned:-

  1. Start with Mystery Skype so students had to determine where the other class was from, asking questions that could only receive a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
  2. We would toss a coin to see who would start the questioning
  3. Once the countries were worked out, we would share items of culture eg money, food, flags, Sth Korean traditional costume, sheep wool from Australia etc
  4. Learn some Sth Korean language
  5. Question time, if time permitted.

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Due to the space restraints in the classroom, most students had a book atlas to look through to determine where in the world they were from. Some had their portable devices. One of my boys tossed a coin over the webcam, Sth Korea called heads but tails was the outcome.

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We started the questions, which included:

  • is it hot there?
  • do you live on an island?
  • do you live near China?

It took about 10 minutes to work out the countries we were from.

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By sharing out cultural objects, we learnt about languages, accents, exchange rates, features of their money, value of money in each country, national costumes, how to speak some basic phrases in Sth Korean, some of the food differences etc It was a great learning experience with interested parents in Sth Korea looking on.

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The power of technology connections in learning


Each year, district schools, open their buildings to interested prospective parents. It almost becomes a competition, with some schools holding their information evenings earlier and earlier in the school year. Of course we all think that we teach in the ‘best school’!

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Although our school, Hawkesdale P12 College is small, it is big on opportunities for students. Technology has enabled us to open up the doors to the world. which includes expert speakers eg authors, scientists, museums; to global classrooms and to some of the best teachers and educationalists there are.IMG_2686.JPG

For the information evening, parents are divided into groups with both a teacher and student leading them around the school. Parents are rotated around Science, Physical Education, Food Technology, Robotics and Information and Communications Technology  areas where they participate in a range of ‘hands on’ activities.

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Each year I am asked to videoconference (using Skype) in to another classroom or with other teachers to show the magic that technology can bring to learning. My two wonderful colleagues, Steve Sherman (Living Maths), South Africa and Lin-lin Tan from Taiwan agreed to connect with us for each of the groups. Steve was at another school and kindly went out of his way to skype with us. This meant he used his mobile phone to connect and he was seated in his car in the carpark to talk to us. This was a first for me! To have an educator teaching us from within their car.

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Initially, the parents and students played Mystery Skype, asking questions that required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to determine their location. Lin-lin had to tell them where she was from as they did not work it out in the allocated time. She also shared a poster and map of where she was from, some Chinese culture (as she is Chinese), her evening meal and some of the foods she enjoys. (Note, our school teaches mandarin Chinese.)

linlin and soup

After a number of questions by students, one of the parents determined Steve’s location with the question: “Did the Australian Cricket Team recently play in your country.”

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People will often ask well “What did you learn?” from doing these connections. Here is just a little bit of learning in the 15-20 minutes that Lin-lin and Steve had.

From Lin-lin

  • Where in the world, Taiwan is. Some students may not have even heard of Taiwan!
  • What the Taiwanese language sounds like! (She was home about to eat her evening meal and her mother had called her to come and eat. She responded in her language to say that she was working with a class in Australia)!
  • It was very hot where she lived. (It is nearly winter here!)
  • We saw the soup she was about to eat – it was vegetarian with many healthy greens etc and heard about her fried rice for tea. She also showed us their pickles.
  • The landmark that Taiwan is famous for – the Tapei Tower
  • Chinese lucky envelopes and how they are used.

Steve Sherman

  • witnessed the true ability of being able to teach anywhere and anytime using technology. Steve taught us from his car in the school carpark.
  • exchange rates – students showed Steve our $5 note and he immediately turned into a learning moment. Parents and students had to search for the exchange rate between AUD and the Rand. The Australian dollar buys nearly 10 rands.
  • Different cultural phrases: South Africans say ‘tins of coke’, Australians say ‘cans of coke’
  • Students/parents had to work out how much a can of coke would cost in AUD, if Australians were in South Africa.

ANZAC day

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ANZAC Day is celebrated across Australia with a public holiday. It is a day of national pride and one of our most important national occasions. On April 25th,  we remember those who have defended our country in war time.

This date commemorates the landing at Gallipoli in 2015 – the first major military action by Australia and New Zealand during World War I. Australians become involved in marches, dawn services and remembrance services.

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Our school has a commemorative service the day before. It takes place in our school stadium. Student leaders participate in readings with our Principal and Assistant Principal reminding us of the meaning of this day. Two students are involved in the navy and army cadets. Dressed in uniform and accompanied by two student leaders, they parade our Australian flag into the stadium and lay it out on the steps to the stage. During the ceremony, students how have brought flowers lay them on the flag.

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The day care centre, kindergarten and our primary school students made poppies, produced posters or other art work and these were displayed on the walls or laid on the flag. A special Gallipoli oak tree was to be planted but rain prevented this from happening. field of poppies.jpg

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ANZAC biscuits are a tradition. Several classes of students made ANZAC biscuits. These biscuits were also on sale in the school canteen.

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At 6am, Hawkesdale held a dawn service in the community reflection space situated on the main road through Hawkesdale. Many people turned up for this event where we are reminded of the some of the history associated with wartime, odes are read and the Australian flag lowered, then raised. The Last Post and Reveille were played on a bugle and a minute’s silence observed. Hawkesdale P12 College school leaders, students who are on the Moyne Shire Junior Youth Council and the local scout group took a lead role. Wreaths and flowers are laid at the epitaph by community organisations and individual members.

HADDAC provided barbecued sausages and the Hawkesale Scout Group made ANZAC biscuits for breakfast afterwards.

South Western Victorian Bushfires on St Patrick’s Day

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March 17th was forecast to be hot and windy, with high fire danger and extreme warnings were issued by the Country Fire Authority (CFA).

It was an early morning rise on Saturday 17th March. I had stayed overnight with my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in an airbnb accommodation in Broadmeadows as it was a short ride to Tullamarine airport. They were flying out to Sth Africa and had to check in at 7am. I was then to drive their car back home.

After seeing them through their flight check-in, I continued on to the Victoria Market to have some breakfast and purchase some fresh delicatessen items, meat and fruit. It was a lovely warm, calm and pleasant morning and I thought that surely the weather forecast was wrong.

After a 3.5 hour drive home, I stepped out of the car to feel the heat and the strong winds that were now blowing. It did not cool down much at all so even when I went to bed it was really hot. Instead of the winds dying down they continued to escalate in strength and speed – a most unusual occurrence. As I was tired I had retired early for the night.

Our landline phone had been out of order for four days, but Telstra had said it should be fixed by the following Tuesday. For some reason, I took my mobile phone to our room and placed it on the bedside cupboard (it is usually charged overnight in the kitchen). At 12:40am I heard it ring via viber (using our wifi) as we do not get mobile phone service at home. It rang out but started up again. I could see it was my daughter trying to ring us and assuming that one of the grandchildren had taken ill, I answered it. However, Katherine was trying to tell us that there was grass fire headed to Hawkesdale and that Hawkesdale was being evacuated. In fact, most people had left at 11:00pm. (We are 8kms south of Hawkesdale). Her snapchat was going wild with people’s photos and updates regarding the extent of th evacuation.

This was hard to believe, as we could not smell smoke or see any fire. Fortunately, our power was still on, so I started up our computer to check out Facebook and the Victorian Emergency website. To my horror, there were fire alerts over much of Western Victoria.

The other puzzling factor, was the fact that our pager had not gone off. My husband is a volunteer firefighter with Warrong which is just south of Hawkesdale and in cases of serious fires in our local area, his pager would have gone off.  Then….. the pager did go off! I quickly threw some things together, including our passports, a sleeping bag and pillow, jumped in the car to evacuate to my daughter’s house in Warrnambool, whilst my husband donned his CFA firefighting uniform and went to Hawkesdale to help fight the fires.

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However, 5 minutes down the road, I remembered my iPad which I desperately needed to keep up to date with the VicEmergency app. I quickly went back inside the house, got my iPad and drove down our drive for the second time. When I reached the end of our driveway, a car had pulled up. It was our neighbours who were coming back to check on us for the second time. They had been to our place an hour earlier and banged and banged on our door trying to wake us up and alert us of the approaching fire. Unfortunately, we had slept right through this. I thanked them and proceeded onto Warrnambool.

It was eerie driving to Warrnambool. There were no other cars on the road (as everyone else had most likely evacuated and reached their destination.)  I had the radio on and could hear all the bushfire warnings. Finally I reached Warrnambool and Katherine’s house. There was little sleep to be had as we listened to the radio and watched the app for the latest updates. Facebook updates provided information from those who had evacuated and from some who decided to stay at Hawkesdale. (They evacuated to the recreation reserve at Hawkesdale or to the Hall). From their updates we knew that Hawkesdale had still not been taken. However, I had no idea where my husband Bruce was. He finally messaged me via viber to say he was okay, had been trying to mop up the fires where they had hit on the farms in Greens Lane and put out some of the fires in the windbreaks and trees.

By morning, we were able to watch some of it on the television news. At 10am I decided to drive home and see what of my garden I could water (to save both the garden and our house, should the fire proceed once more). Winds were still fierce and it was still quite warm. At 4pm there was meeting organised by the CFA for community members in our school library. The library was full of community members and representatives from a wide variety of groups. We were briefed on the extent of the fire and some of the options for financial and hardship relief.

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The significant role of social media in all this.

Without social media, we may not have known of the impending fire until it was too late as we had no mobile phone service and our landline was out of order.

Snapchat: my daughter’s snapchat feed alerted her to the fires in the district including Terang, Camperdown and Gazette and then to the evacuation of Hawkesdale and the sheer numbers from Hawkesdale who had left. Watching the feed closely she realised she needed to urgently contact us using viber. Fortunately our power was still on for wifi to work. In real time, she was getting photos from people who could see the fierce fires nearby.

Facebook: updates here, enabled us to keep in contact with others who had evacuated and who had stayed in Hawkesdale. A site setup with the sponsorship of the Red Cross allowed us to mark that we were safe.

The Vic Emergency website: kept updating every 2 hours with the latest alerts, incidents and warnings.